Jamail: Lebanese Red Cross Repeatedly Targeted


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2006 18:41:03 +0300
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From: •••@••.•••
Subject: Iraq Dispatches: Lebanese Red Cross Repeatedly Targeted

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
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      Lebanese Red Cross Repeatedly Targeted

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail

*TYRE, Aug 1 (IPS) - Israeli warplanes are attacking the Lebanese Red Cross 
repeatedly, members of the medical aid group say.*

"The night of July 23 we were called to rescue a family whose home was bombed," 
Kassem Shaulan, a 28-year-old medic with the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre told 
IPS. "Just as I finished loading the three injured people in my ambulance, it 
was struck by a rocket and all of us were injured."

The ambulance, now parked outside of the Red Cross headquarters in this coastal 
city, had a hole through the centre of the red cross painted on its roof. The 
inside was heavily damaged and pieces of the metal frame of the van hung limply,
riddled with shrapnel holes.

The Red Cross worker had several wounds on his body, and stitches on his chin 
and leg. He said he could not hear very well any more.

"There was an old man on a stretcher in the ambulance who lost his leg from the 
bomb," Shaulan said. "And a child with us is now in coma. The third person is 
critically injured."

Shaulan, who has worked with the Red Cross for 13 years, is also training 
manager at the headquarters. He said that minutes after his ambulance was 
bombed, another ambulance nearby that was collecting injured people was also 

Nobody seems to feel safe anywhere any more. During the brief let-up in air 
strikes after Israel's disastrous strike on a shelter in Qana that killed at 
least 60 civilians - more than half of them children -- villagers are fleeing 
their homes in southern Lebanon by the tens of thousands.

The United Nations World Food Programme and other relief agencies have been 
working tirelessly to take advantage of the short window to ferry truckloads of 
aid to stranded civilians.

The brief halt also revealed more death and destruction. Members of the Lebanese
Red Cross in Tyre told IPS that their rescue workers retrieved more than 30 
bodies from destroyed homes, streets, cars, gardens and ditches as they began 
their search. They continued to receive calls about the dead and injured from 
villages throughout the south.

Shaulan said his headquarters had received calls from Qana pleading for rescue 
assistance at 5 am on the morning of the Israeli strike. The shelter was bombed 
at 1 am.

"Immediately after we got the call we took three ambulances and headed to Qana,"
he said. "But three bombs nearly hit our first ambulance, so we turned back."

They attempted to head out to Qana a second time, but again their ambulances 
were attacked, and they returned to base. "They were keeping us away," Shaulan 
said. They succeeded a third time, just before 9 am.

"You can see here that everyone the Israelis are attacking are civilians and the
Red Cross," Shaulan said. "And now we are having trouble reaching villages to 
collect bodies because they've bombed most of the roads and bridges before they 
told people to leave their homes."

Mohammad Zatar, who has been working for the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre since 
1993, said he had never before seen attacks on rescue workers.

"As a Red Cross volunteer I need to be very clear that we are not political -- 
we rescue anyone who needs help," the 32-year-old Zatar told IPS. As a colleague
unloaded bodies from bloody stretchers, Zatar said "whether they are civilian, a
resistance fighter or an Israeli soldier, our policy is to help any human who 
needs help. But the Israelis seem to be attacking us now."

Zatar said that most of the bodies they were picking up were of women and 
children. "Sometimes we pick younger or middle-aged men, but that is uncommon."

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz told the Israeli Parliament Monday that 
Israel plans to "expand and strengthen" its attack against Hezbollah. "It's 
forbidden to agree to an immediate ceasefire," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said there would be no ceasefire, and that 
Israeli forces will continue fighting from the air and sea and on the ground in 

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.

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